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The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Ball State halts Huskies’ late rally for matinee victory

NIU junior guard David Coit works his way past Ball State University freshman forward Mason Jones on Saturday. The Huskies fell 81-71 to the Cardinals in Muncie, Indiana on Saturday. (Nick Wilson | Courtesy of Ball State Athletics)

DeKALB – A dominant performance from Ball State junior forward Basheer Jihad lifted the Ball State University Cardinals (11-9, 3-5 MAC) to an 81-71 victory over NIU men’s basketball (6-13, 0-7 MAC).

The Huskies had their hands full trying to stop Jihad who finished with 28 points, one point shy of his career high. Jihad also grabbed 14 rebounds, blocked two shots and got to the free throw line 10 times. 

The short-handed Huskies had just three players score over 5 points as they dropped their ninth consecutive game. Junior guard David Coit led the way with 25 points on 9-for-20 shooting. Junior guard Zarique Nutter scored 20 points and sophomore forward Xavier Amos added 13 points.

The Huskies were playing catch up all game Saturday, falling behind by 15 points late in the first half and trailing for the final 30 minutes of the game. 

“Second half has been our issue all year,” said NIU men’s basketball head coach Rashon Burno. “We outscored them (in the second half), but the last three minutes of the first half puts us down by 12 or 13. I thought we fought. Being undermanned, not having the guard play, obviously we needed that depth. These kids fought and they understand how hard you have to play, now we just got to execute.”


Ball State was the more aggressive team, getting to the free throw line 26 times and converting on 23 of those attempts. The Huskies shot just 9-for-13 from the free throw line. 

“When you’re on a downward spin in regards to losing games, the discrepancy from the foul line was yet again egregious,” Burno said. 

In addition to controlling the game inside, the Cardinals also connected on 8 of their 17 three-point attempts, while the Huskies made just 4 of their 18 attempts from beyond the arc. 


Despite the loss, Burno felt the Huskies may have found something that could help them get back in the win column towards the end of the second half. 

After trailing by double digits for the majority of the second half, the Huskies played a full court press defense for the last six minutes of the game.

“What we’re going to have to do is force tempo,” Burno said. “We have to be able to generate ways to score because teams lock in on Diggy (Coit) and things like that, so we have to generate easy baskets and get some of our role players opportunities to impact winning.”

The Huskies full court pressure helped them mount a 14-2 run to cut the Cardinals lead to just 6 points. With just under two minutes to play, the Huskies had a chance to cut the Cardinals lead to one possession, but were unable to convert. 

Ball State answered quickly with 6 straight points, putting the game out of reach. 


The Huskies next opportunity to get a win will be against Central Michigan University at 6 p.m. Tuesday at McGuirk Arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and live stats will be available via SideArm Stats

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